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Bacow ends Naked Quad Run

Published: Monday, March 14, 2011

Updated: Monday, March 14, 2011 14:03

NQR

Aalok Kanani / Tufts Daily

In this video still taken at last semester’s NQR on Dec. 17, TUPD officers are seen arresting a student.


The university will no longer sanction the annual Naked Quad Run (NQR) due to concerns over participants' safety and the risk of student death, the Daily has learned.

The decades-long tradition, in which students partake in a large-scale, clothing-free sprint around the Res Quad to celebrate the end of fall semester classes, will no longer be permitted to take place, University President Lawrence Bacow revealed to the Daily.

In both interviews with the Daily and an op-ed published today, Bacow said the university can no longer tolerate the event in light of the inherent dangers it presents, particularly the serious risks to student safety from a combination of dangerous levels of alcohol consumption, icy roads and cold temperatures.

The president has directed Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman, along with Tufts Community Union President Sam Wallis and Programming Board Co-Chair Sarah Habib, both seniors, to drive a search for an alternative event to replace the naked run.

"Given that we can no longer manage the run, we cannot allow this ‘tradition' to continue," Bacow said in the op-ed. "Even if I did not act now, NQR would end some day. The only question is whether a student has to die first."

"We cannot allow this to happen, and the Naked Quad Run will not continue," Bacow continued.

The announcement comes as the university continues to handle the fallout from this year's event. Officials ended the December run earlier than usual, resulting in the arrest of one student amid accusations by attendees of police misbehavior. Alcohol abuse also increased, Reitman said in January.

In his op-ed, Bacow said the university has tried to manage NQR, but that it ultimately had become too big to control, putting students at a greater — and potentially even fatal — risk.

The university president told the Daily on Friday that he originally consulted with senior administrators and members of his leadership team in a debriefing after December's run, but that it fell to him to make the call.

"In the end, it's my decision," Bacow said.

 

Trustees express concerns

NQR was one subject of a Board of Trustees discussion last month on the topic of alcohol and risk, which took place during the trustees' regular meeting on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus. The plenary session brought in university health officials, student leaders and administrators.

At the discussion, trustees learned of increases in both the number of instances of student alcohol abuse and the levels of intoxication health officials have encountered, according to Stacey Sperling, a physician at Health Service who is the medical director of Tufts Emergency Medical Services. Sperling presented data on alcohol abuse at Tufts, including numbers from Spring Fling and NQR.

The trustees listened and asked thoughtful questions of many of the presenters, Sperling said, but left any decision about a potential course of action to be determined by the president.

"By the end of the meeting, there was no consensus from the board, but they were clearly very interested and concerned," she said. "They were not either condoning or not condoning the Naked Quad Run."

Ian Wong, the director of health education, spoke at the session and said that, in addition to NQR, the discussion touched on how to best prevent alcohol abuse, particularly among freshmen.

Director of Public Relations Kim Thurler last month said that the monitoring of alcohol use on campus falls under the trustees' duties.

"It's one of their responsibilities to keep an eye on potential risks at the university and make sure that things are being handled appropriately and so forth," she said.

At that meeting, Wallis and Habib spoke to the trustees about NQR. Wallis spoke of the changes to the university's alcohol policy, while Habib focused more on the programming aspect of the event, she said.

"I think the trustees were surprised to hear about some of what went on during NQR," Wallis said.

Habib said the event was valuable in that it raised school spirit. Though the trustees acknowledged her concerns, some of her exchanges with the trustees on the topic were "heated," she said.

"At the end of the day, [school spirit] concerns do not outweigh student safety, so we lost," Habib said.

Both students were made aware of Bacow's decision last Thursday, according to Wallis.

"I was disappointed," Habib said of the final decision, "but at this point I just want to make the best of the situation."

Wallis, too, expressed disappointment, but looked for an upside.

"We view this as an opportunity to come up with something really cool," Wallis said.

 "Clearly, the administration feels that it's not safe enough," Habib said. "At the end of the day, we're not going to debate the decision the administration made."

 

History, tradition, alcohol

NQR, which has traditionally taken place on the evening of the last day of classes in December, has long been steeped in controversy.

The university officially began providing support for the run in 2003 in order to ensure student safety, and Tufts University Police Department officers and those from other departments have over the years policed the event.

But logistical headaches, safety issues and liability concerns have marred the running of NQR — more formally recognized by administrators as the Nighttime Quad Reception — since its informal beginnings as an exam-week tradition in the 1970s.

University officials have over the years expressed displeasure with the run, which has been one of few campus-wide events that bring together a significant percentage of the undergraduate student body. In January, Reitman told the Daily that the university and police have never been comfortable managing an event in which they are effectively permitting public nudity to occur and in which they encounter an abnormal amount of alcohol abuse.

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jro21
Fri Mar 18 2011 22:04
Tufts: creating 'traditions' by committee since 2001.
brakerboy
Wed Mar 16 2011 07:52
I just want to point out, as a Tufts Alumn, that the Daily clearly seems to be in cahoots with Larry and the administration on this one. Look at the tone of this article, the follow up piece on students protesting, and the three opinion pieces they chose to publish; "NQR reconsidered", "Letter to the Editor ... I applaud University President Lawrence Bacow's decision to end NQR" , and "NQRs end an unfortunate yet necessary decision".
Its sad to see that a daily college run newspaper, a great ... whats that word again, ah yes ... tradition, trying to sway public opinion rather than publishing anything that would challenge the university president. If it was controversial but trendy progressive issue at hand, I wouldnt be surprised to see more in depth coverage.
I understand that NQR poses risks and I also want to make it clear that I have no vendetta against Larry Bacow (the guy is a brilliant mind) but Im wondering how there is nothing reading " Bacow gives student body the middle finger on his way out" reading on this site or in print? Did anyone read the comments yesterday from alumn saying they would never give another dime to the university? (For the record, i think that's extreme, but nonetheless it shows the other side of the coin that the daily acknowledges but is still attempting to sweep under the rug).
The problem here is clearly a liability issue. The University sets themselves up for a lawsuit by sanctioning an event where people are intoxicated. Additionally, TUPD doesn't want any additional sexual harassment lawsuits on their hands for restraining naked students. (On a side note, TUPD is a great asset to the school and has an unbelievable staff)
The problem is that NQR was a beloved tradition, and while there are risks involved, students need to hold themselves accountable. Tufts has a major problem in the "school spirit" department (if your are/were an athlete, you are especially aware of this) but this event somehow managed to transcend that problem and bring the student community together.
The bottom line, Larry Bacow is taking the proverbial trampoline out of our back yard because he is leaving on an extended business trip. He doesn't have to listen to the "kids complain.The daily has an obligation to voice the complaints of the community, even if it stands in the face of the administration. I understand the optimism behind trying to create a "new event", but lets be serious, Tufts is losing one of its greatest traditions. Or is it ?!?
Caitlin Johnson
Tue Mar 15 2011 13:36
This is awful. I am a 2007 alum and I'm mad as heck. There's no reason that drinking can't be more regulated, as in the case of Spring Fling. Most activities at Tufts were terribly dull, excepting Spring Fling, NQR, and Wilderness Orientation (which also involved streaking). I ran all four years, drank but not to excess, and never got hurt.

Begone, Bacow. You are a teetotaler and a bore.

Jumbo2002
Tue Mar 15 2011 11:04
Recent studies have shown that binge drinking is much more prevalent in college students than their peers. Clearly this means that the problem must be college. We should close down all of these heinous institutions! How many children must die before we do something?

Has there been a sadder day on campus since Jumbo was burned up? I do not see how shutting down the run portion of the event is going to curb the binge drinking that goes along with it. Some of this alumnus���s fondest Jumbo memories on the hill were of Naked Quad Runs. It was the one event where the entire campus truly came together. There is no doubt in my mind that whatever highly sanitized replacement thought up by the Dean of Students and TCU President will gain the same support.

I agree with others that stated the problem is the University attempting to sanction the event in the first place. Alas, my only hope is that late at night a few brave souls respectfully and at their own risk continue this fine tradition, and the University has the good sense to look the other way.

daniellevin
Tue Mar 15 2011 09:30
Hey, @Bob Loblaw - you're getting old...

@anonsd - excellent insights,
"he planned to ban it the whole time, he came into office on record as being appalled at the tradition. and to blame this year's 'incident' on students rather than overzealous police (which is what the judge found as he angrily tossed the issue out of his courtroom) is akin to blaming a rape victim for her dress.
make no mistake, there will be more naked quad runs. This absurdity in making it an 'official' event only made it easier for the university to call for it to end, which may have been their original goal..."

Is Bacow just another crotchety career politician selling out to the love of power and money? It's like the police, military, federal bank, federal government or IMF coming in to help out a distressed population (in so doing sanctioning an event never meant to be sanctioned) and then fleecing the population into allowing their cultural traditions to be erased, like as if one day the cannon had been removed because "graffiti is immoral."

The cannon is still there, right?

:D '98

JamesMX
Tue Mar 15 2011 09:30
It seems that some of the problems are caused by NQR taking place in the winter, on possibly slippery ground, late at night when people have been drinking first.

Possibly the tradition could be modified so the run is early and the parties follow. Suggest someone figure out a 7pm run ending in the Naked Ball.

Or maybe reschedule for the summer, at mid day, when the sun is out, when people have just started on their morning Starbucks coffee rather than the last of a keg. Nudity is more fun in the summer. Get Starbucks to sponsor ? Maybe the great thong run.

Bob Loblaw
Tue Mar 15 2011 04:46
Hey @daniellevin, don't make me lob a law bomb at you. I'll write all about it in my law blog.
daniellevin
Mon Mar 14 2011 21:47
Hey, @Bob Loblaw - you're getting old...

@anonsd - excellent insights,
"he planned to ban it the whole time, he came into office on record as being appalled at the tradition. and to blame this year's 'incident' on students rather than overzealous police (which is what the judge found as he angrily tossed the issue out of his courtroom) is akin to blaming a rape victim for her dress.
make no mistake, there will be more naked quad runs. This absurdity in making it an 'official' event only made it easier for the university to call for it to end, which may have been their original goal..."

Is Bacow just another crotchety career politician selling out to the love of power and money? It's like the police, military, federal bank, federal government or IMF coming in to help out a distressed population (in so doing sanctioning an event never meant to be sanctioned) and then fleecing the population into allowing their cultural traditions to be erased, like as if one day the cannon had been removed because "graffiti is immoral."

The cannon is still there, right?

:D '98

MarianKF
Mon Mar 14 2011 16:16
When did this "tradition" start? I graduated in the seventies, and this is the first I've ever heard of it!
alumni2010
Mon Mar 14 2011 15:02
the outrage and backlash towards this demonstrates something important: tufts DOES have school spirit. even if a lot of you are way too cool to admit it, people are proud to go to tufts and have traditions. use this as an opportunity to create something new. it can even involve drinking! the best traditions aren't school sponsored anyhow. i bet some enterprising fraternity/sports team/culture house/whatever can come up with something great and invite everyone to participate. just realize that a school-sanctioned naked run in freezing temperatures is a lot to ask the administration to put up with, so don't act all high and mighty like there is any defense to NOT getting rid of this.
anonsd
Mon Mar 14 2011 14:39
@bob - of course he planned to ban it the whole time, he came into office on record as being appalled at the tradition. and to blame this year's 'incident' on students rather than overzealous police (which is what the judge found as he angrily tossed the issue out of his courtroom) is akin to blaming a rape victim for her dress.

make no mistake, there will be more naked quad runs. This absurdity in making it an 'official' event only made it easier for the university to call for it to end, which may have been their original goal. The time may not be as well advertised in advance, but that quad will be streaked each and every year, regardless of 'policy'.

cmike12345
Mon Mar 14 2011 14:38
I'm a 2010 Alumni, and I won't be donating anything to Tufts anymore if this stands. There is a lack of school spirit at Tufts as it is, and NQR is something that the vast majority of the student population enjoys.

Current students should organize a rally in front of Bacow's house. It shouldn't be too hard to do with social networking, and students will feel very strongly about it so they'll show up. Demand that the event stays in place and don't give in until your demands are met. Don't let the will of the students be squashed.

bob
Mon Mar 14 2011 14:15
@Ben

No, Bacow is doing this at the right time. The decision to end NQR obviously stems from the student arrest and controversy of this year's NQR; it's not as if Bacow planned to ban NQR all along. Had there been no incident, we probably would still have NQR.

And it's better that Bacow ban it than the new president. Can you imagine how much Monaco would be hated if his first move was to ban this beloved tradition? As much as it sucks, Bacow made the right choice and at the right time. I'm disappointed that NQR ended during the middle of my time at Tufts, but it's the right and necessary decision.

Ben Chamberlain
Mon Mar 14 2011 14:00
As a current sophomore, I do somewhat understand where Bacow is coming from. He has been coming under pressure from local police, and the surrounding public, and NQR is, overall, a very public and illegal event which the university sanctions. This, coupled with the danger of running while drunk and naked, does have the potential to be a disaster for Tufts- if a student died in an accident in a very illegal university-sanctioned event, I can't imagine the outcome would be good for Tufts.
That being said, I am very disappointed at the way Bacow handled this. Not only was there no attempt at modification- Spring Fling, Winter Bash have basic sobriety checks, why can't we eliminate the alcohol without the NQR?- but Bacow as well made this change at the very end of his term. Frankly I find it annoying to think that he backed out when he doesn't have to deal with the fallout- come next winter when there are naked and drunk students who want to run NQR (as official cancellation won't stop them) he won't be on campus to deal with it, our new president Monaco will be. And if the alcohol is what makes the event dangerous, I don't see why there can't be a direct push to limit the alcohol and keep the tradition.
All in all, however, I would like to say that Bacow is a much-loved figure on campus. He runs campus in a very intimate way- meeting in person with students, performing in student acting productions and even the TDC dance, if I remember correctly. Despite lapses in dorm upkeep which no student is happy about, I feel Bacow has done a good job, and I am willing, as a student, to stand by his decision.
And to all the alumni who have pledged to no longer donate because of this- I urge you to reconsider your decision. NQR is not the only great thing about Tufts- and ceasing donations certainly doesn't get back at Bacow, as he is leaving, it only hurts the current student body. I don't want to see a drop in endowment from something as small as this, and although I hate to say it, I think Bacow is right- NQR could not have remained in it's current condition for much longer. It is simply far to dangerous to the student population and the university's reputation.
alum10
Mon Mar 14 2011 13:59
This is sad. Bacow makes some very legitimate points. I think it would be easier to accept his decision to end a beloved Tufts tradition if it wasn't attached to a long string of impracticable mandates to end college binge drinking (which no one, especially no one at Tufts, will ever do). It makes it difficult to separate the reason that exists in ending a tradition which (he is probably right about this) seems to beg for a student fatality, from Bacow's own misguided personal agenda to closet underage drinking. And we all know that whatever they think up to replace this will be lame, will probably involve more blue and brown cupcakes than booze, and will draw a fraction of the crowd.
RIP NQR - you were well loved.
Ben Chamberlain
Mon Mar 14 2011 13:50
As a current sophomore, I do somewhat understand where Bacow is coming from. He has been coming under pressure from local police, and the surrounding public, and NQR is, overall, a very public and illegal event which the university sanctions. This, coupled with the danger of running while drunk and naked, does have the potential to be a disaster for Tufts- if a student died in an accident in a very illegal university-sanctioned event, I can't imagine the outcome would be good for Tufts.
That being said, I am very disappointed at the way Bacow handled this. Not only was there no attempt at modification- Spring Fling, Winter Bash have basic sobriety checks, why can't we eliminate the alcohol without the NQR?- but Bacow as well made this change at the very end of his term. Frankly I find it annoying to think that he backed out when he doesn't have to deal with the fallout- come next winter when there are naked and drunk students who want to run NQR (as official cancellation won't stop them) he won't be on campus to deal with it, our new president Monaco will be. And if the alcohol is what makes the event dangerous, I don't see why there can't be a direct push to limit the alcohol and keep the tradition.
All in all, however, I would like to say that Bacow is a much-loved figure on campus. He runs campus in a very intimate way- meeting in person with students, performing in student acting productions and even the TDC dance, if I remember correctly. Despite lapses in dorm upkeep which no student is happy about, I feel Bacow has done a good job, and I am willing, as a student, to stand by his decision.
And to all the alumni who have pledged to no longer donate because of this- I urge you to reconsider your decision. NQR is not the only great thing about Tufts- and ceasing donations certainly doesn't get back at Bacow, as he is leaving, it only hurts the current student body. I don't want to see a drop in endowment from something as small as this, and although I hate to say it, I think Bacow is right- NQR could not have remained in it's current condition for much longer. It is simply far to dangerous to the student population and the university's reputation.
FutureAlum11
Mon Mar 14 2011 13:31
Clearly, this article should have been entitled "President Bacow solves bringe drinking at Tufts, forever" or maybe "President Bacow totally and certainly doesn't create a serious issue for future president to solve"

Also, dearest alumni. I promise to binge drink with you until we both boot whenever you want in exchange for a job.

bobola7
Mon Mar 14 2011 13:26
I graduated in 2010, and I loved NQR. I ran 18 laps all 4 years of college, and never once did I drink a sip of alcohol before running. It really seems that every year Tufts changes the rules to take away more and more students' rights. When one of the University of Chicago Presidents stepped down, the last thing he did in office was to make U of C a D3 school after being a D1 school since it was founded. Bacow is abolishing NQR, that's like even worse. But if he wants to be remembered as the president who eliminated the best Tufts University tradition ever, then that is his decision.

NQR was an event long before it was Tufts sanctioned. Kids don't need music, donuts, and cops to run around naked. Maybe they'll have a few dozen cops on campus that night, coincidentally on the resquad next year, maybe they won't. I promise you they wont have them every night. Kids should just pick a night and run it. NQR was started as a protest, this is an opportunity for it to get back to its roots! Alumni and current students alike should head to the hill one night, get naked, and start running laps in a [sober] protest against getting rid of NQR. We can bring our own donuts and apple cider, which I guess was good for you if you were drinking, but not good for if you want to run well.

Bob Loblaw
Mon Mar 14 2011 13:21
@wmillie01, Sorry, not an English major... but thanks for the ad hominem (also, why is English the only proper way to convey a response? That's a harsh thing to say, what if I am ESL? Don't make assumptions). All I know is that when I graduate in May, I am not going to wax poetic about the glory days and how it should really be.
wmille01
Mon Mar 14 2011 12:55
Lindsey and Bob -
I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, played baseball and also participated actively in the Leonard Carmichael Society. I studied abroad while at Tufts, and I have a graduate degree and have worked in consulting and finance. Hopefully this contradicts your ill-formed stereotypes.

Having attended a variety of academic institutions, I am simply observing that Tufts is the one to which I feel the least meaningful connection, and it's very clear why. The administration spends so much time trying to be everything to everyone and employing a liability-management strategy that no one ends up establishing any type of meaningful relationship with their peers and school.

Bob, when you said "this doesn't really effect (sic) you," you meant "affect" with an "a." I generally find it hard to accept constructive comments from people that never learned the proper manner in which to convey their thoughts, ie: English.

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